Kara Cornell

Biography

New York native Kara Cornell is a versatile performer who is known as “a singer who can balance impeccable production and phrasing with enthusiastic and colorful dramatics.” (Berkshire Review for the Arts) Her expressive portrayal of roles and clear English diction has hailed her as “accomplished and electrifying” (Opera Insider) with roles ranging from a “totally endearing” Cinderella (St. Petersburg Times) to a “seductive, wounded, damaged and dangerous” Carmen (The Troy Record).

Roles Kara has recently performed include Carmen (Hubbard Hall Opera Theater, Opera Theater of Pittsburgh, Long Island Opera, St. Petersburg Opera), Orfeo in Orfeo ed Euridice (Opera Theater of Pittsburgh, Mosaic-Arts), Sesto in Giulio Cesare (Upstate Chamber Opera) and the Third Lady in Die Zauberflöte (Opera Saratoga). She is a strong advocate of contemporary repertoire and musical theater as well, and has been seen as Dinah in Trouble in Tahiti (Union Avenue Opera, Resonance Works|Pittsburgh), Minskwoman in Jonathan Dove’s Flight (Opera Fayetteville), Eliza Doolittle in My Fair Lady (Smithtown Center for the Performing Arts), Cinderella in Into the Woods (St. Petersburg Opera) and Beth in Merrily We Roll Along (Theater Company at Hubbard Hall).

Kara’s concert repertoire is also robust and widely varied, ranging from classical Bach and Handel oratorio to contemporary works like Karl Jenkins’ Stabat Mater, for which she was hailed “superb” for her ability to switch vocal styles at the drop of a hat (Schenectady Gazette). Kara was heard as a soloist in the premiere of Nancy Galbraith’s Sacred Songs and Interludes, and on New Years Day 2015 she sang alongside PDQ Bach in a Pops Concert with the Cape Cod Symphony.

Repertoire

ROLES PERFORMED
Composer Role Work Company Year
Mazzoli Isabelle Songs from the Uproar Opera Ithaca 2017
Verdi Meg Page Falstaff Resonance Works | Pittsburgh 2017
Bizet Mercédès Carmen Winter Opera St. Louis 2017
Bizet et al Carmen Carmen the Gypsy (flamenco adaptation) Opera Theatre of Pittsburgh Summerfest 2016
Adamo Alma March Little Women Pittsburgh Opera 2016
Bernstein Dinah/Soloist “The Bernstein Project”/Trouble in Tahiti Resonance Works|Pittsburgh 2015
Wallen Sabina Sabina (workshop) Center for Contemporary Opera 2014
Handel Sesto Giulio Cesare Upstate Chamber Opera 2014
Mozart Dritte Dame Die Zauberflöte Opera Saratoga 2014
Bizet Carmen Carmen Hubbard Hall Opera Theater (regional tour) 2014
Dove Minskwoman Flight Opera Fayetteville 2014
Kander Flossie Williams News from Poems (premiere) Center for Contemporary opera 2013
Hagen Catherine Wright Shining Brow Opera Theater of Pittsburgh 2013
PDQ Bach Peter Schläfer A Little Nightmare Music Opera Theater of Pittsburgh 2013
Bernstein Dinah Trouble in Tahiti Union Avenue Opera 2013
Verdi Maddalena Rigoletto Upstate Chamber Opera 2013
Verdi Flora/Dance Soloist La traviata Hubbard Hall at Proctors 2013
Bizet Carmen Carmen Long Island Opera 2012
Mack Mezzo roles The Secret of Luca (premiere) Skidmore College Music Series 2012
Bizet et al. Carmen Carmen – the Gypsy (flamenco adaptation) Opera Theater of Pittsburgh 2012
Menotti Mother Amahl and the Night Visitors Mosaic-Arts 2011
Gluck Orfeo Orfeo ed Euridice Mosaic-Arts 2011
Rossini Tisbe La cenerentola Union Avenue Opera 2011
Sondheim Beth Merrily We Roll Along Theater at Hubbard Hall 2011
Gluck Orpheus Orpheus and Euridice Opera Theater of Pittsburgh 2010
Sondheim Petra A Little Night Music St. Petersburg Opera 2010
Humperdinck Hansel Hansel and Gretel Hubbard Hall Opera Theater 2010
Bizet Carmen La Tragédie de Carmen Hubbard Hall Opera Theater 2009
Sondheim Cinderella Into the Woods St. Petersburg Opera 2009
Rossini Rosina Il barbiere di Siviglia St. Petersburg Opera 2009
Rossini Rosina Il barbiere di Siviglia Center City Opera 2009
Mozart Dorabella Così fan tutte Hubbard Hall Opera Theater 2009
Adamo Jo Little Women Center City Opera 2007
Mozart Zweite Dame Die Zauberflöte Union Avenue Opera 2007
SUGGESTED REPERTOIRE
Composer Role Work
Britten Miss Jessel The Turn of the Screw
Kern Julie Show Boat
Mack Sister Dorothy Angel of the Amazon
Monteverdi Pastore L’Orfeo
Mozart Cherubino, Marcellina Le nozze di Figaro
Puccini Suzuki Madama Butterfly
Purcell Dido Dido and Aeneas
Schwartz Catherine Pippin
Rodgers Mother Abbess The Sound of Music
Rossini Angelina La cenerentola
J. Strauss Prince Orlofsky Die Fledermaus
R. Strauss Octavian Der Rosenkavalier
Verdi Preziosilla La forza del destino
ORATORIO/CONCERT
Composer Work Company Year
Dvorak Stabat Mater Berkeley Community Chorus and Orchestra 2017
Various Recital of American Art Song Music in a Great Space 2016
Vivaldi Gloria, Beatus Vir Akron Symphony Chorus 2016
Russell C. Andrade Recital of American Art Song St. Petersburg Opera 2016
Rorem Evidence of Things Not Seen Resonance Works|Pittsburgh 2016
Various Guest Artist Recital – American Art Song Southwestern University 2015
Respighi Il Tramonto Resonance Works|Pittsburgh 2015
Haydn Theresienmesse Washington & Jefferson College 2015
PDQ Bach New Year’s Day Pops Concert Cape Cod Symphony 2015
Various “Gems of the Region” Upstate Chamber Opera Recital Series 2014
Turina “Matador’s Prayer” Musicians of Ma’alwyck 2014
Salieri/Mozart Requiem/Vesperae Solennes de Confessore Burnt Hills Oratorio Society 2014
Jenkins Stabat Mater Octavo Singers 2014
Bernstein Songbook Jazzband Cabaret Union Avenue Opera 2013
Haydn Lord Nelson Mass Albany Pro Musica 2013
Various Italian Nuns Cloistered Muse Missouri Women’s Chorus 2013
Charpentier Messe de Minuit pour Noël Huntington Choral Society 2012
Saint-Saëns Christmas Oratorio Huntington Choral Society 2012
Rossini Stabat Mater Octavo Singers 2012
Respighi Il Tramonto Musicians of Ma’alwyck 2012
Handel Samson Falmouth Chorale 2012
Vaughan Williams Dona Nobis Pacem Sage Chorale Singers 2012
Stravinsky Les Noces Williams College 2011
Handel The Messiah Octavo Singers 2009/2010
Corigliano Fern Hill Albany Pro Musica 2009
Bach Christmas Oratorio Burnt Hills Choral Society 2009
Bach St. John Passion Albany Pro Musica 2009
Mendelssohn Elijah Octavo Singers 2008
Galbraith Sacred Songs and Interludes (premiere) Pittsburgh Camerata 2007
Handel Judas Maccabeus The Brooklyn Philharmonic 2006
Handel The Messiah U.S. Naval Academy 2006

Media

In The Press

CARMEN THE GYPSY

“…what Kara Cornell did in the title role was done with a high degree of success. She certainly is able to present a visual picture of the alluring and irresistible gypsy with the gifts nature gave her, and she has a lovely mezzo-soprano voice of abundant power and more than adequate flexibility…She acted the part with appropriate vigor, sang the earlier arias with a fine sense of seductive diablerie, and the sobering card-reading scene quite dramatically. No amount of temporary tattooing could disguise her attractiveness, and she clicks a mean castanet.” – Pittsburgh in the Round

“Kara Cornell and James Flora are the self-destructive Carmen and Don José, and both sing with rich, beautiful voices.” – Pittsburgh City Paper

NEW YEAR’S DAY POPS – Cape Cod Symphony

“Who could imagine, for example, that two lovely operatic sopranos like Kara Cornell and Margot Rood would get into the party spirit. But there was Cornell, coming out with a huge champagne glass and boozily tripping through ‘To Each Their Own’ from ‘Die Fledermaus.’ She was followed by Rood, slyly offering ‘I Want to be a Prima Donna’ from Victor Herbert’s ‘The Enchantress.’ And then, after a lovely rendering of ‘O Lovely Peace’ from Handel’s ‘Judas Maccabeus,’ the two women faced off in a hilarious ‘Cat Duet,’ complete with high notes and hissing.” – The Cape Cod Times

GEMS OF THE REGION – Upstate Chamber Opera Recital Series

“The combination of Kara and [pianist Michael Clement] is simply magical. Both are artists at the very top of their game – Kara’s earthy mezzo is glorious in itself, but when you pair that with a performance presence that inhabits the texts utterly, and draws you into their very meaning, it transcends art.” – Arts Talk, Auriel Camerata

STABAT MATER (Jenkins) – Octavo Singers

“Cornell was the only soloist in five of the [12] sections and she was superb. Her voice was lustrous, her phrases were finished and her diction excellent in Latin, English and Aramaic.” – Geraldine Freeman, The Schenectady Gazette

TROUBLE IN TAHITI – Union Avenue Opera

“Cornell was effective as the lonely, frustrated housewife Dinah, who more accurately embodies the Mad Men era of the ‘50s… [she] handled Bernstein’s straightforward lyrics and syncopated music with aplomb.” – Mark Bretz, Ladue News

“Kara Cornell captures Dinah’s focusless suffering, and she has a lovely dramatic soprano voice… [in the cabaret] Cornell sang a lovely “Simple Song” from Bernstein’s “Mass”, as well as the comic “I Can Cook Too” in which she produces a surprising bounty of lollipops from somewhere under her clothing.” – Steve Callahan, KDHX

CARMEN – Long Island Opera

“Among the standouts in the cast was Kara Cornell in the role of Carmen. Her seductive interpretation was a perfect match for the title role.” – The Sag Harbor Express,

CARMEN – Opera Theater of Pittsburgh

“The production would be worth seeing for Kara Cornell’s portrayal of Carmen alone… [she] reveled in Carmen’s earthiness as well as her personal strength and integrity. [She] was an electric presence [and] sang Bizet’s unforgettable tunes with just the right degree of insinuation and proved to be a good dancer, as well.” – Mark Kanny, The Tribune Review

“Whenever Kara Cornell came on stage, she might as well have licked her lips, hungry to command the other characters and mesmerize the audience (both of which she did successfully).” – Elizabeth Bloom, Pittsburgh Post Gazette

MUSICAL TRAVELOGUE – Musicians of Ma’alwyck

“[Cornell’s voice] projected easily… she was agile over [Dopo notte’s] extensive range and numerous scales and showed an especially rich low range. Her tone [in Il Tramonto] was luscious and her phrases melted with feeling.” – Geraldine Freedman, The Post Gazette

AMAHL AND THE NIGHT VISITORS – Mosaic Arts

“Our young and excellent local mezzo, Kara Cornell, is [a] rare artist who sings directly from the heart of the character. What I liked best in this performance was how she looked up at the hoard of riches the kings had brought before she sang the “All that Gold” aria. This gesture, the exactness of her facial expression, the slowness of it, was a kind of singing before the singing began, and nearly equal to it. In Kara’s performing, singing is not the only thing that happens; it is part of what happens. And the best thing of all is that this is natural to her. She accomplishes it so simply.” – Keith Kibler, Berkshire Review for the Arts

MERRILY WE ROLL ALONG – Theater at Hubbard Hall

“It was no surprise that the most beautiful singing of the night came from Kara Cornell… Kara sets an excellent example for other young singers. She doesn’t use her voice as an excessive instrument, but an incisive instrument. The clarity of her singing is the beauty of it. She showed again in this show, beyond any doubt, that this repertoire can be sung beautifully if the actress is vivid.” – Keith Kibler, Berkshire Review for the Arts

AMERICAN SONG PROJECT – ENY/NATS

“The afternoon started with material by Jane Leslie that hinted at musical theater. The marvelous mezzo Kara Cornell sang them with plenty of charm, while also maintaining a classical dignity and restraint.” – Joe Dalton, Albany Times Union, April 2011

A LITTLE NIGHT MUSIC – St. Petersburg Opera

“Kara Cornell, a sexy, glamorous Petra, lit up the theater in The Miller’s Son.” – John Fleming, St. Petersburg Times

WEDNESDAY BEFORE LAST (opera electronica premiere) – Musaic Concert Series

“Bass-baritone David Crawford and mezzo Kara Cornell, for my money, were the most accomplished and electrifying singers on stage. It wasn’t just their voices that captivated but their stage presence, their openness, their complete conviction in every movement they made and note they sang. – Kala Maxym, The Opera Insider

LA TRAGÉDIE DE CARMEN – Hubbard Hall Opera Theater

“Kara Cornell’s performance was truly extraordinary. Dianna Heldman’s staging called for a great deal of action, which never unseated Ms. Cornell’s totally secure production for a second. She sang impeccably throughout, with a rich lower register and a golden top.” – Michael Miller, The Berkshire Review for the Arts

“The completeness of Kara Cornell’s Carmen at Hubbard Hall was something to behold. Every part of the role was integrated…no, it’s better than that…was at one with its interpreter. I have rarely seen so young a performer understand so well what an opera singer needs to do to be real on stage.” – Keith Kibler, The Berkshire Review for the Arts

“Kara Cornell as Carmen is a riveting actress, at once seductive, wounded, damaged and dangerous, and possessed of a beautiful and smoky mezzo perfect for the dizzying range of Carmen’s sometimes-taunting, sometimes-tawdry, sometimes-tender emotions.” – Phil Drew, The Troy Record

“This production is by no means lesser than larger productions of the traditional version, because of an extraordinary performance by Kara Cornell as Carmen. She is by turns imperious, sultry, passionate, and devious – everything that a great Carmen should be… so by all means at some point in your life catch a production of the traditional Carmen with all the bells and whistles. But when you do, you will not get the experience offered at this Hubbard Hall opera – of experiencing in an intimate setting a first rate portrayal of Carmen by a performer of Cornell’s immense talent.” – Alex Brooks, The Eastwick Press

“If you want to see what singing acting really is, go see Kara Cornell… Voice, face and body are one thing. She makes opera a completely believable speech.” – Keith Kibler, The Berkshire Review

“Graves was rightly billed then as “the world’s reigning Carmen,” but having seen Kara Cornell’s performance I think Graves now has serious competition… when she first threw off her cloak and revealed herself here my heart sank because her blonde good looks didn’t immediately make me think of a hot-blooded gypsy. But that fear was quickly laid to rest as Cornell’s powerful soprano, her fine acting, and her sensuous dancing overcame all ethnic boundaries and made her Carmen through and through. In fact, Cornell completely eclipsed everyone else on stage…they were not as electrifying or vocally excellent as Cornell’s performance.” – Gail M. Burns

CHRISTMAS ORATORIO (Bach) – Burnt Hills Oratorio Society

“Outstanding among the 4 soloists was alto Kara Cornell… she sounded as if she understood and felt the meaning and emotions of the words she was singing.” – Peter C. Gerdine, voxincamera

“Cornell [had a] lovely way with a phrase and sang with a smile in her voice” – Geraldine Freedman, The Post Gazette

INTO THE WOODS – St. Petersburg Opera

“Her performance grew nicely, and by the time she reached the witty On the Steps of the Palace she was totally endearing.” – John Fleming, St. Petersburg Times

LE NOZZE DI FIGARO – Capital Opera

“Cornell’s intense acting and her apparent sympathy for the vagaries of the adolescent male gave her Cherubino an appealing vulnerability and comic extravagance…throughout Cherubino’s escapades her voice was impeccably focused, bright but rich in color, and her phrasing was a marvel of taste and an intuitive sense of form.” – Michael Miller, The Berkshire Review

ST. JOHN PASSION/FERN HILL – Albany Pro Musica

“It featured… fine solos… from mezzo-soprano Kara Cornell, who had a lovely unbroken sound whether singing in chest or head voice.” – Joseph Dalton, The Times Union

“There was good interplay between the chorus and orchestra [in Corigliano’s Fern Hill] as well as an interlude in the middle that Cornell sang with lush tones… her agile voice and strong range skipped through it all.” – Geraldine Freedman, The Daily Gazette

RECITAL – U Albany guest artist series

“[Cornell] gave a splendid recital… [she] is a singer who can balance impeccable production and phrasing with enthusiastic and colorful dramatics. Rossini and Heggie gave her plenty of scope to act, and her bright, coherently balanced mezzo voice richly expressed the beauty and intimacy of Berlioz’ floating lines. And, thanks to Heggie, she proved herself a top blues singer, as well!” – Michael Miller, The Berkshire Review

COSÌ FAN TUTTE – Hubbard Hall Opera Theater

“Cornell brought a rich, generous mezzo-soprano voice to her Dorabella. Not only did she sing and act her character with imagination and flair, she achieved some truly impressive moments, not the least of which was her “Smanie implacabili”, which she sang with security, style, and a fine sense of Dorabella’s extravagance.” – Michael Miller, The Berkshire Review

“Besides singing beautifully, Cornell was the comic star of the evening, with her facial expressions worth the price of admission. Of the two sisters, Dorabella is much more willing to fall under the spell of the “Albanians” and Cornell makes this obvious with every twitch of her nose.” – Bill Rice, Schenectady Post Gazette

ELIJAH – Octavo Singers

“Cornell had a big voice, and an even range that projected easily.” – Geraldine Freedman, Schenectady Daily Gazette

SACRED SONGS AND INTERLUDES (premiere) – The Pittsburgh Camerata

“Cornell’s voice was lyric and flexible, and soared through her top register beautifully.” – Eric Haines, Pittsburgh Post Gazette

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